DETROIT – General Motors is researching ways to improve fuel economy by developing new tire technology. The automaker has partnered with the new National Tire Research Center in in Halifax County, Va. to develop new tire technologies. GM said new tire technologies could result in up to a 7% improvement in fuel economy, according to some estimates, with one example being low-rolling-resistance tires.
The National Tire Research Center facility has $11.2 million in tire performance test equipment, known as Flat-Trac LTRe, which can replicate the driving maneuvers of passenger cars or light-duty trucks on roads. This system is capable of running a tire at up to 200 mph and can provide tire-related data on handling, ride, torque, and braking capabilities on different types of surfaces, including wet roads.
The center’s facility also includes the Southern Virginia Vehicle Motion (SoVa Motion) Laboratory, which offers shock and suspension testing, virtual prototyping of vehicle components, and on-vehicle sensing, such as wheel force transducers. GM said SovaMotion will use the Tire Center’s test data to conduct drive and handling simulations that could help reduce the time and associated costs of vehicle program development.